Frankie & The Heartstrings, Arcade Fire, Childhood
Frankie & The Heartstrings – ‘I Still Follow You’
They might be the soundtrack to pizza adverts now but if you were expecting Frankie & The Heartstrings to return all stodgy and bloated from too many free stuffed crusts, think again. ‘I Still Follow You’ is the first track to be unveiled from the Sunderland pop charmers’ forthcoming second album sessions, and they’re sounding svelter than ever. Gone is their scrappy exuberance and there’s a smooth sheen in its place, bringing their pop sensibilities into spectacular, hi-def focus. Recorded with Suede guitarist turned producer Bernard Butler (who also worked on last year’s single ‘Everybody Looks Better (In The Right Light)’) it’s the sound of a band upping their game. Not that Frankie and co sound overly optimistic here, as their leader promises his heart to an unrequited love. We’ve seen plenty of girls swoon at the sight of his cherubic face and swooping hairdo but, apparently, not the one Frankie’s head over heels for. “[i]Play it cool cos I can’t[/i]”, he sighs at one point before pledging to the object of his desire to follow them. If it weren’t for the big, glacial harmonies cushioning his coos, it might sound VERY creepy. Whether it impresses the girl of his dreams or not, there’ll surely be legions of indie girls chasing him when they hear this.
Lulu James – ‘Be Safe’
Remember Joe McElderry? The X Factor winner who bonded with Cheryl Cole cos he was from South Shields… never mind. Lulu is from South Shields too, though ‘Be Safe’’s heart is clearly in south London. James possesses a soulful voice to defy her 21 years and the trip-hop productions to erase any connection with her hometown’s recent musical history.
The Child Of Lov – ‘Heal’
Mystery musician The Child Of Lov describes himself as “reclusive” but he’s still managed to make some pretty impressive mates. Take ‘Heal’, the first official single on Domino’s Double Six. It’s inspired by that other home-bod Prince, has plenty of soulful “got-ta got-ta”’s and none other than Damon Albarn on bass.
Arcade Fire – ‘Crucified Again’
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Indie behemoths Arcade Fire have reached that stage where their every move is analysed for clues about where they’re heading. On the strength of the melancholy, Church-baiting ‘Crucified Again’ they’re still preaching from the neon bible. We don’t know if it will end up on their fourth album. We do know it gives us goosebumps.
Kevin EG Perry
SOHN – ‘The Wheel’
SOHN splits his time between the Austrian mountains and London but we won’t begrudge him a jetset lifestyle if he keeps making tracks like this. Debut single ‘The Wheel’ combines his High-pitched, quasi-boyband vocals, cool clicks, synths and a break as satisfying as reaching the peak of a high climb and checking out a breathtaking view.
How To Destroy Angels – ‘Keep It Together’
Taken from the six-track ‘The Omen’ EP, the first tune from Trent Reznor’s new project with his wife Mariqueen Maandig is more along the lines of his (brilliant) soundtrack work than Nine Inch Nails: minimal, menacing electronics colliding nicely with cooed, atmospheric vocals.
Childhood – ‘Blue Velvet’
Palma Violets’ bezzies debut single is one of the finest slices of lo-fi indie pop you’ll hear all year. Sounding not unlike Creation anti-icons Felt, Blue Velvet’s got about three different choruses (all great) and is bolstered by some fearsomely god-given guitar lines.
Blacklisters – ‘Clubfoot By Kasabian’
Who knows if Leeds newcomers Blklstrs (bigged up by Simon Biffy in these very pages recently, no less) are taking the piss out of Tom and Serge or not with this song title – you can’t make out a word they’re bellowing. What’s more decipherable is the fact that they sound as rip-throat thrilling as ‘00s band Mclusky being Pulled Apart By Horses.
Purity Ring ft Danny Brown – ‘Belispeak II’
If, like me, you can only stomach Purity Ring’s iridescent electropop in Tinkerbell-sized portions, the addition of the rowdy ramblings of gap-toothed maniac Danny Brown are just the relish this remixed track needs to boot our hopelessly ethereal duo into the realm of the badass.
Torches – ‘Someone Needs A Ritual’
OK, hands up: which of you miscreants set fire to Charlie Drinkwater’s undercrackers? Because here he’s yelping as if the flames are licking around his nether regions, while his cohorts pour on heaps of gasoline with crunching, herky-jerky guitars that sound like a wrong-side-of-the-tracks Future Islands. Bloody marvellous stuff.